BOSTON -- Zdeno Chara said he is confident he'll be ready for the start of the regular season and optimistic the Boston Bruins will soon agree to terms with unsigned restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
The Bruins captain had surgeries on his jaw during and after the seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final. He also had elbow surgery in the offseason but said he expects to be in the lineup when Boston opens its season at the Dallas Stars on Oct. 3.
"I believe so. You know, as of right now I think that it feels pretty good," the 42-year-old defenseman said Friday after Boston's first practice of training camp. "You know, I'm looking forward to tomorrow, the next day, and my goal is to keep getting stronger and feeling better."
Chara fractured his jaw in Game 4 of the Cup Final when he blocked Blues forward Brayden Schenn's shot with his stick and the puck deflected up. Although Chara didn't return to that game, he played in the last three games of the series after surgery to insert wires. He had another procedure to remove the wires weeks later.
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There was concern Chara would be limited at training camp after the surgeries, but those worries were unfounded.
"So right now I'm basically part of all of the drills," he said. "I don't think I'll be playing first few [preseason] games. That's probably something that we have to talk about what's going to be after. And I think with less [preseason] games than in previous years, definitely I think most of the guys that played all the way to the Finals won't see probably many of those games. But again it's something that the coaching staff and management have to decide."
Chara had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and was third on the Bruins with an average of 21:05 of ice time in 62 games last season. He'll enter this season as the oldest player in the NHL.
McAvoy (22:10) and Carlo (20:55) ranked first and fourth on the Bruins in average ice time last season.
If their absences continue, it would leave Boston thin at defenseman. The Bruins know John Moore will be out at least until November after offseason shoulder surgery, and Kevan Miller hasn't resumed skating since having two knee surgeries last season.
Chara said he thinks the Bruins can succeed even if they're shorthanded at defenseman, but he also anticipates that McAvoy and Carlo's contract situations will be resolved.
"I think that that's something that will play out eventually," he said. "But I think that as of right now we've got to really focus on who is here and do our best to get the best out of training camp. I believe that Brandon and Charlie will be here at the beginning of the season. But you know anything can happen and I think that right now we just got to go as it is."